Wednesday, March 16, 2011

That Ram…


Brad and I are sitting in the “Sharing Bar” which is the little café in our international dorm. He’s on the internet as I try to blog. Country music is playing in the background. Not today’s Zach Brown Band or Darius Rucker (my favorites) or evenShania Twain (she’s a popular one here), but none other than George Jones. Brad is feeling all warm and cozy on the inside. He just called out “hen hao” (very good!) to the owner / manager and claimed the music as being from his state. Oh,that Southern Pride. You can take the boy out of the dirty South,but you can’t take the dirty South out of the boy. I wonder if the two Middle Eastern guys in the booth eating pizza and smoking cigarettes are equally as impressed with this evening’s selection.

Chinese schools get about a month off through January, their Chinese New Year / Spring Festival. A couple weeks ago we resumed our regular schedule. I use the term regular lightly. I am outsourced to other schools sometimes and last Thursday as I finished up some extra hours filling in for a different school, we’ll name it Plan B, the manager (sort-of) of that school came to me with my schedule for the next week. It included teaching 1st grade and 3th grade at a public elementary school (thus outsourced from my outsource) and a few at her school teaching 20-somethings (which I love). She gave me the primary school books from which to teach and quickly said, “Okay?” (it wasn’t a question) and then was done with me. This was the first time I had received a schedule from her so I thought it was a little weird. She is definitely a tricky one, but she told me she had already emailed Cheny so… I just went with it as cordially as possible.

Though I didn't this time, I have stood up to her before, S.H.O.C.K.E.R., I know. The first time I was scheduled to teach at her school (way back in September) I had to give a demo lesson, a lesson given to a prospective student. She told Cheny that she would have the book for me to use there at the school. Cheny went with me since it was my first time to Plan B, and we got there early so I could have time to prepare. When we arrived she didn’t seem to remember that she had promised me a book and instead told me to teach “anything I wanted.” What did that even mean and how would I know the English level of the students? I was furious but sat down at the one computer to try to think of something. She and Cheny started talking in Chinese. There was a lull in their conversation and I used that moment to get up from my chair, walk over to her, look directly in her eyes (she’s short, don’t worry, I didn’t need my toes) and say, “If you would have told me earlier I could have prepared something, but I didn’t know what I needed.” I was so proud of myself and for the moment didn’t care if she hated me. I was so strong. Then, I cried. Haha -kidding.

Cheny told me later she would have said something if I hadn’t. hmmmm.....

So anyway, I wondered if Cheny did in fact know I had these classes. She had told me previously that I possibly would have extra elementary school classes this semester.

Friday passed, and then Saturday, but I had yet to receive my new week’s schedule from Cheny (weeks are Monday - Sunday). On Sunday after my first class I texted her just to make sure I did need to teach those classes. She said yes. I received my official schedule later on that evening, with still yet another new elementary school class listed Thursday afternoon. Those classes that were given to me from Plan B school had not been the original elementary classes Cheny had been talking about.

Of course, as usual, the ram was already in the woods! (Shout out to my life group sistas.) I didn’t have to teach Monday morning, the college class had something else planned for the students, so I was able to use that time to prepare. I went to Huawen (our home base) where I had a computer, printer, and copier.

I found out there that Cheny didn’t know I was given more primary school classes. She had been told Plan B needed me for hours, but that was it. She called Plan B and found some things out so I could have more of a direction as I planned my lessons. She was also told: 1) I would be given a Chinese assistant to accompany me, and 2) these were smaller advanced classes (between 25-30 students each). I wouldn’t have to deal with lots of crazy kids in a huge crazy-kid classroom. This was good news.

It took me about 4 hours that morning, but I got something together. I went back home and left quickly again for Plan B so I could then be told where the primary school was located.

Things were busy when I arrived at
Plan B. I stood in the lobby type area for a bit and waited. A few minutes later the manager walked up to me and thrust LESSON PLANS into my hands.

“Lesson plans for you.”

“Lesson plans?”

“Lesson plans for you. The school has them. I sent them last week.”

“Lesson plans? But I already made lessons. Can I still use mine?”

“Oh, it’s just for your reference. Lesson plans for your reference.” She walked away as quickly as she had spoken.

Seriously, Cheny had called her THAT morning, why hadn’t she said anything about lesson plans she had already typed up and sent to the school a week earlier??

I stood around about 5 more minutes. The director of the school, the ONLY person above this lady, and fortunately someone who somehow has grown to like me, had ridden the elevator up with me and engaged me in casual conversation. He saw that I was still waiting and motioned to his manager (who was on her cell phone) that I was still standing there. At that she motioned to another girl who was sitting in a chair. That girl got up and came to me; I gathered she was my assistant.

This girl walked up to about 2 inches from my face and happily asked, ‘Hello, I’m _____ and I’m studying French. You speak French?”

No.” – that was all I said. Did she think I was going to be speaking French? You’ve GOT to be kidding me. WHAT is happening to me right now? She looked confused when I responded negatively. She regretfully said that her English wasn’t so good. She then clenched me at the elbow and began moving me down the hall, down the elevator, outside down the street, and then into a taxi. Seriously, I know I’m on my way to middle age, but I assure you I can walk by myself.

We made it to the school and alas, I had one more surprise. I was waiting in an office when I learned that there had been some miscommunication. I wasn’t going to be teaching 1st grade, but in fact 4th. WHAT?! I had 25 minutes to think of something extra to teach concerning “WORKING AT A FACTORY” to 4th graders. So much for having anything prepared. (haha – China. I had to teach about a factory!) Ready, GO.

Well, faithful blog followers, the ram was still in the woods and I was able to do all things through Christ who strengthened me. I made them laugh, I made them cry. (Okay, kidding about that too. No one’s been crying.) I even had them working in groups by the end of class. As the kids filed out, many said goodbye and two girls said I was beautiful. (aaaw, oh stop,... I mean… I’m sorry what? I didn’t hear you.) It had worked out

and I had actually even enjoyed myself! Better yet, now it was OVER and there would be no more surprises!

But, there were more surprises. Happy surprises! I got back to our dorm and I had gotten so much mail! I L.O.V.E. mail! After that my husband surprised me by taking me to a sushi restaurant. I L.O.V.E. sushi and we hadn’t had it since being here! Then my husband surprised me with a beautiful framed picture from our wedding with the lyrics of Crazy Love by Van Morrison printed on it. I L.O.V.E. that song and who doesn’t L.O.V.E. presents??? The next morning I checked my email and had LOTS of Facebook messages filled with love. I L.O.V.E. Facebook love!

Turns out it was a pretty great birthday after all. Of course it was; the ram was in the woods the whole time.


  1. awww, this just made me smile, and laugh, and cry (just kidding... no crying here either). I love this post. I'm sorry that China is crazy. But I'm happy that you have a wonderful husband and that you had such a good birthday! love you guys!! HURRY UP AND COME HOME!!

  2. Hey dana,
    You handle your surprises exceptionally well:-)
    Grandma and I loved reading your story. Thanks so much for sharing. we love you, mom

  3. LOVE THIS POST. Made me laugh. And since I'm me, yes, it did make me cry. MISS YOU!!! Have your bday present on my counter so you'll get more mail soon!! Picked you up something funny in Charleston. :) xoxoxoxoxo